Ross Barkley has so far been one of the revelations of the season. Of course the player’s talent is nothing like a revelation, we have known for a long time now, since he made his debut as a 17-year-old, that he is a supremely talented individual.
But under Roberto Martinez he appears to have had a second lease of life - with the style being implemented by the Spaniard suited to his game. But saying this is his second lease of life is a bit of a red herring, in all reality it is his third.
Barkley’s ability has been known since his early teenage years and he was a constant presence in various England youth teams.
And it was while on international duty that he suffered an injury that could have sent his career in a completely different trajectory - after a collision with, coincidentally, a current Liverpool starlet.
He was playing for England under-19s in a qualifier in Belgium back in 2010. Barkley and Liverpool defender Andre Wisdom challenged for the same ball and the resultant clash left both players on the floor in agony, but Barkley worse off.
His manager for that game Noel Blake remembers it vividly:
‘’It was terrible to see two young talented boys hurt like that in such a manner. Still to this day I don't feel comfortable thinking about what happened, as it was so upsetting. Thankfully he has recovered and it shows his strength of character that he has got back so quickly. ‘’
Barkley had broken his leg in three places and suffered an injury that can end a professional footballer’s career at a very tender age. But he fought back, and just a little under a year later he was back in action.
The collision with Wisdom had only delayed his progress - which has now seen him rewarded with his first England cap and recent plaudits from managers, pundits and critics across the board suggest he is finally coming good on Merseyside.
For Everton, they must hope that the player remembers how the club stood by him during that tough time, as rumours of Manchester United and Chelsea interest beings to gain momentum.
Barkley has the world at his feet again, yet it all hung by a thread merely three years ago.
image: © Jon Candy